Big & Little Tractor Days

Guest blogger Duane Davis is back with another unique event that speaks to the rich history and continuing tradition of Michigan's rural community.

The sound of tractor motors filled the air at Charlotte’s 5th Annual Big & Little Tractor Days (pdf download). The weekend’s activities included Tractor Games, Tractor and Truck Pulls, Mini Mod Pulls and static tractor displays.

A large static display of various makes of garden tractors occupied the area outside the fairground’s track. These tractors, while really not powerful enough for a large farm, are used for maintaining large gardens. A number of collectors and restorers had their machines on display. Some of the garden tractors had been restored to original condition, while other tractors had been “chromed” and their engines modified for a major increase in horsepower. I was able to check out the various implements and attachments used for various tasks in a large garden.

Antique Ford tractor from the early 1900s

Another section of the Eaton County Fairgrounds held the antique tractor display. You take a trip back in farming history walking among the tractors from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. One of these tractors was built over 90 years ago by Ford (it had to be cranked by hand to start the motor, no remote starter option on that model!).

There was a demonstration of a sawmill powered by a tractor. The raw logs were cut down to boards the right size to be use for roofing shingles. Another demonstration was of a small antique utility motor actually churning homemade ice cream. The ice cream was a delicious refreshment on a hot August afternoon.

Over at the “Tractor Games,” you are able to watch tractor drivers put their skills to the test. The drivers had to “herd” barrels, balance their tractor on a “teeter-totter,” and put a logging chain in a box. The winners of these events are determined by who can do the task in the shortest time. The finale of the tractor games is the “suitcase” race. Each driver is randomly paired with another driver. Each team is assigned a suitcase. With a tractor and driver on each end of the track, the rules of the race are simple: open the suitcase, don the garments, and race your tractor down to the other end where your partner is waiting. Once at that end of the track, you strip off the garments and throw them at your partner, who has to untangle them, put them on, and race their tractor back to the starting line. Once there, your partner has to strip the garments off and repack them in the suitcase. The team that can do that the fastest wins (hint: it helps to have a fast tractor!).

A Mini Mod tractor competing in a pull

The big events at Tractor Days are the “pulls.” Saturday night is the Mini Mods…the Mini Mods are garden tractors on steroids. There is some serious horsepower there. Sunday afternoon is the antique tractors, the stock tractors, and the 4X4 pickup truck pulls. The rules are pretty simple…hook onto the sled and drag it as far as you can!

The Big & Little Tractor Days are held the first full weekend in August and I have added it to my list of Pure Michigan events for next summer.

Duane Davis was born a Yooper, but was raised in the Cereal City...he travels to the UP as much as possible for special events and outdoor activities, but stayed closer to home for this weekend event.